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Elephant Eyelash (Anticon)

The fact that Why? has suddenly morphed from a wordy, nerdy MC into a wordy, nerdy indie rocker is a less remarkable transformation than Elephant Eyelash makes it seem. This is because Why? has made the transition so well. The old caterpillar-into-butterfly metaphor is tired, but the truly beautiful moments on this Pavement-style collection deserve the comparison.

Hip-hop, underground or otherwise, has been mostly forsaken here for a maze of glitch-folk, straight-ahead rhythms, and gorgeous melodies. It's all topped by the sort of artless vocals that make perfect sense in this context, sugared by surprising harmonies. The only holdover is the lyric sheet, cryptic as ever; you'll still have to figure out what phrases like "All the people who taught me card tricks are dying" mean. Or maybe not -- surrounded by songs this good, the inscrutable rhymes that are an Anticon trademark have never made such sense. -- Dan LeRoy

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